Your younger, but not thaaaaat much younger cousin whose hair you used to french braid for dance class every Thursday. The cute girls down the street who considered you their favorite babysitter when they were tiny and whose mom you used to gossip with after she’d come home from work. Your fiance’s only niece, AKA the other cute girl in his life who takes him up on every offer for a piggy back ride and tea party. None of these girls are young enough to be the toddling and cute-but-clueless flower girl who walks down the aisle. But they’re also not old enough to be a bridesmaid who can do and afford all of the bridesmaid-y events. So, you have an epiphany and say to yourself, “Self! I know! [Insert Name Here] can be a JUNIOR BRIDESMAID!”
Genius idea, but what the blintzes does a junior bridesmaid even do?
Not A (Little) Girl, Not Yet A Woman
A junior bridesmaid is like a watered-down version of an adult bridesmaid and a totally upgraded model of a flower girl. She’s cute and gets time to shine like a flower girl, but fits in more with the adult bridesmaids. Best of both worlds, right?
Usually, the over/under for the age of a junior bridesmaid is between 9 and 14. None of the traditions are requirements, but you can take what you need and make up your own rules about how to include your junior bridesmaid on your wedding day.
Because a junior bridesmaid is not, like, working for The Man, she probably has no income to throw you a shower. Unless your junior bridesmaid is Dakota Fanning. Wait, I think she’s older than 14 now. But you know what I mean. So, even though she won’t dish out cash to help sponsor the shower, she should be included by planning to attend and assist with bridal shower duties like set-up and clean-up, making favors, cooking and baking, helping with gifts, and other very important tasks.
You can even include your junior bridesmaid when you go wedding gown shopping. Now, you are not required to follow her opinions or let her pick out The Dress, but certainly she can be there as part of the experience. This is really more appropriate if your junior bridesmaid is a sister or a daughter, but it’s a nice and special way to include her. And she’ll love all the pretty dresses!
When The Big Day Arrives
Speaking of dresses, she’ll get to wear a similar, if not the same, dress as the bridesmaids! Sometimes, brides select a dress for the junior bridesmaid that may be a bit longer in length or something with straps. It can be the same fabric and color as the adult bridesmaids, but if your gals are sporting a sexy dress, nothing says “tacky wedding” like allowing the junior bridesmaid to wear the identical frock. So, you know, good judgement yada yada yada.
She can also hold a smaller version of the adult bridesmaids’ bouquet. There’s always the corsage option, but that’s a little too prom for my personal taste. Most would agree.
When it comes to the wedding events, the junior bridesmaid will be at your rehearsal dinner like the rest of the bridal party and she can also hang with the ushers (what younger girl wouldn’t want to rub elbows with cool, older, cute guys in suits?) by also seating guests, handing out programs, or standing by the yarmulkes. She’ll definitely charm the old Jewish men that way.
Your junior bridesmaid can walk alone down the aisle, with another young man (junior groomsman?), or with another adult member of the wedding party. No rule here. It’s up to you and how symmetrical you are in your planning.
Just keep in mind – and this is a reminder because most of us have tried to forget – that your junior bridesmaid might be going through the, you know, change. Puberty. So, when it comes to picking out her look for day, be cognizant of the fact that she might be self-conscious or unable to pull off the style you have in mind. Remember when we were figuring it all out? Yeah, that’s probably what she’s going through right now. She might be brushing her curls… not something I ever did. No, no. I would have never done that because it causes really annoying frizzy hair, which makes awkward pubescent years even more traumatic. Sigh.
So, even though she may be a wee bit underage to join you for your bachelorette party at Guido’s Chippendales, your favorite younger gal pal can participate in your bridal experience in a more G-rated fashion. She’ll be honored to be by your side as you say “I do” to your love, and maybe even learn a thing or two about how to be the coolest bride ever for when it’s her turn in 15-ish years.